Localism Bill

Memorandum submitted by the Construction Products Association (L 100)


The Construction Products Association is the umbrella body for manufacturers and suppliers of construction products in the UK and our membership consists of the 24 major companies in the industry as well as 44 sector trade associations, which collectively represent 85% of the industry by value. The products sector has an annual turnover of more than £50 billion and accounts for 40% of total construction output and 4% of GDP.

The Localism Bill will have a significant impact on the construction products industry and although the Association does not object to the principle of localism , we do have some major concerns about how the Bill will, in its current form, detract from the government’s ambitions for growth. At a time of economic uncertainty, it is crucial that Parliament legislates in a way that supports and nurtures business growth, helping to make the UK a more attractive place for inward investment. T he Association ’s key concerns are outlined below.


· Minerals

As it stands, the Bill reflects three positives for the minerals industry in terms of planning and we urge that this remains the case:

- its exclusion from the scope of neighbourhood plans

- no change in the scope of CIL from which minerals are excluded

- no third party right of appeal (for further information see separate section below)

However, the Association has serious concerns in relation to the issue of mineral quarries being viewed as assets of community value. This could have a whole host of unintended consequences, not least because the Bill fails to define what this term means.

· Housing

- The last three years have seen the lowest levels of house building in this country since 1924. Furthermore, in 2011 the Association forecasts that only 110,000 homes will be built, less than half the 240,000 a year required to meet our ever increasing housing need

- Clearly there are concerns regarding the wisdom of allowing local communities to decide if they wish to accept planning applications for new housing developments as this could reduce housing levels even further

- The Association would like to see clarification in the Bill as to how government will ensure there is adequate housing supply at a national level and what action it will take if financial incentives such as the New Homes Bonus do not stimulate the necessary level of housing

· Major Infrastructure Projects

- For sustained economic growth to be realised it is essential that the UK has a high standard of transport and energy infrastructure to attract inward investment

- The Association accepts that the Secretary of State will take planning decisions of national importance. However, a strict timetable for decisions should be adhered to and should not be influenced by political considerations

· Voice of Business

- There is a real concern that neighbourhood forums will only be stimulated to engage in planning decisions when they want to resist development which will seriously hinder the government’s plans for economic growth

- Within neighbourhoods and communities, business does not appear to have a voice and it is unclear whether or not a neighbourhood forum includes local business. Furthermore business does not seem to have a vote in any referendums on local plans

· Duty to Co-operate

- The Association supports the ‘duty to co-operate’ but believes that it should be strengthened and clarified. For example the Bill should set out more explicitly how planning author ities should seek to co-operate with one another i.e. the development of joint Infrastructure Plans, Core Strategies or agreements on areas of particular strategic importance at a sub-regional level

- The Bill should also s et out how compliance with the ‘duty to c o-operate will be monitored and the penalty that will apply should authorities fail to do so

· Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL)

- Money acquired by Local Authorities through CIL should be focussed on capital investment – at present the Bill does not stipulate on what it can be spent


· There is much confusion between the emerging LEPs, neighbourhood planning and local planning, given that LEPs do not have any planning powers

· At present some LEPs straddle more than one geographical area which will further confuse the planning process


· The Association wants to ensure that the Localism Bill does not result in centrally held regulations or standards being repealed and replaced by innumerable local versions. This would mean that companies, many of whom operate all over the UK, would have a range of varying regulations which would negatively impact on their ability to operate


· The Association supports the decision to remove the third party right of appeal from the Bill and urges the government to resist any amendments for its re-inclusion as it will only serve to create further delays in an already cumbersome planning process


· Sustainable development is an essential target for the government as part of its green agenda, and the Association fully supports this objective. However at present there is no definition of what this means in practice or how it will be delivered

· It is essential that clarification is established in the Bill to enable this presumption to be achieved

February 2011